Sunday, March 27, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #194 – the Super

At some point I stopped asking Why they can’t, don’t, won’t bag your groceries for you. And at some point it stopped bothering me. But I’ll admit there is a disproportionate amount of Shabbat table discussion amongst Americans, at least in our circles, about the definition of customer service in the supermarket. And related discussions such as: The Automatic Plastic Bag Dispenser. Time and money went into development of this machine? Is this spillover technology from the IDF? From NASA? Did someone really sit and design this machine. That haphazardly separates plastic bags for you? Who is that supposed to help? Bob insists it’s for the benefit of the cashier, whose sole interest is moving the line along. The bag dispenser doesn’t even bother me anymore. My biggest challenge is remembering to bring along a 5-shekel coin. Have coin, will travel IF you have a 5-shekel coin (or an American quarter) with which to release the wagon and IF you can leave behind your preconceived notions about what constitutes customer service (service here means a guard will check your trunk on your way in, a cashier will tell you how much money you could save if you would just buy Israeli cereals instead of American ones, and there will be a large bottle of water at the customer service desk from which you are welcome to take a small plastic cupful, should you become thirsty), you may be ready to visit the “Super” (any large grocery store) in Israel. Which is great if you are in the market for a new cell phone. Or some cheese. Certain grocery items are very important here Chocolate milk being one of them. The chocolate milk section is vast, complete with family sized, small snack sized, large snack sized, extra large snack sized and teeny tiny sakiot (bags) - for anytime (but these sakiot are for real Israelis only).

This bag contains about 10 little bags of chocolate milk. You can tell how long someone’s been here by watching them with the little baggie of chocolate milk. If they require a scissor to open it or if they bring it to mommy to open it, they are clearly right off the Nefesh B’Nefesh flight. The real way to open it, like a watermelon seed, is with teeth. Only teeth.

In time, you get used to the small sizes of, well, everything Forget the party sized bag of anything. There is no gallon of milk. Even the family sized chocolate milk is just a half gallon.

Almost everything. Israeli's have their priorities As my friend Yonit astutely noted, the smallest hair gel comes in a 1000 gram container. That's 35 ounces of hair gel! Meanwhile, the largest cottage cheese you can find is just 350 grams. That's barely 12 ounces!

But buyer beware If you cannot read Hebrew make sure you know what you are buying. When we first got here Rosie brought me a bottle of Cif (floor cleaner) and a cup and asked me to pour. Could you tell the difference?

These dishwasher tabs should be stored far away from the candy bracelets. You will get advice in the Super. Sometimes solicited. Most times not. Sometimes about food and saving money. Other times about snakes. Asher is my little engineer. It took me a while to get used to the pockets full of rusty nails, broken glass and watch batteries he would bring home. But now they’re just a fact of life.

Another fact of life: Peetoosh is not allowed in his room. Ever. As Asher was searching for ‘raw materials’ in the field next to my house this afternoon he came upon a snake. Oddly enough, Becky and I had received a leaflet detailing what to do if you come upon a snake – just last week, in the ‘Super’. The leaflet was decidedly unhelpful, but the excitement of the snake sighting in conjunction with the Snake Leaflet lasted the whole day.


  1. Lisa - I'm waiting for the BEST SELLER. I'll be lining up in Barnes n Nobles to get your autograph or is it going to be at Pomerantz's?! I'll be able to say I knew you before....
    Reading your blog really makes me feel like I'm there, we'll almost. Enjoy it for both of us - meanwhile. When I get there, you'll be explaining the Hebrew to me! Miss it all, except the 'yeish kinim ba'gan' part....
    Love you!

  2. Great post :) I love how the hair gel is by Pnina Rosenblum (a politician)...